First of all, to anyone one who watched that entire game: well done. That game was both awful and awesome. The first quarter was particularly painful to watch. The second wasn't much better.
17%? 17%!? Remember how I said the Cavs won't shoot the ball every game like they did vs Chicago? Well, they seemed dead set to prove me right. The Cavs shot 17% for the first quarter, that's beyond awful. And 6 minutes into the second quarter they actually brought the average down to 16%. Down from 17%? I'm not even mad, that's amazing.
I can't stress enough how awful the first 3 quarters were. First of all, ugly to watch. But combined with Fred McLeod homerisms and Austins Carr's inane comments, it was borderline torturous. The Celtics were ahead from anywhere from 18-25 and Austin kept calling them pesky and said "they keep hanging around". Pesky? Hanging around? They're beating Cleveland by 25 points! Pesky? Pesky!?!
Did they not take the Celtics seriously? For the first 3 quarters, the Cavs were listless. It was looking like they'd be 3-3 with wins versus 3 playoff teams and losses versus 3 bottom feeders. At first they were actually getting and taking good shots, they just weren't falling. After they missed a few, the team just starting rushing and over thinking each shot (instead of just shooting).
Drew Gooden pulled a Drew Gooden. My major criticism of Gooden over the years is that he disappears every now and then. Before tonight, he had 5 straight good/great games and I wondered if he finally 'got it'. Well, Drew had a stinker of a game tonight and wasn't a factor at all. It could just a one game aberration, I sure hope so. Hell, I'll take 5/6 games of good production (of course, Brown only gave him 15 minutes, but it just wasn't Drew's night).
Sasha Pavlovic had a monster game. I can't stress this enough. Monster. Game. Sasha was one of the few bright spots in the first half and I thought Brown left him on the bench too long to start the second. He had 14 points over all and hit two huge 3's in the fourth quarter. Like Gooden, Sasha's problem in the past has been his consistency. If he can keep his production up anywhere near this level, the Cavs will be very well off.
The offense. The Cavs didn't go inside or really attack the rim until the fourth quarter. Again they settled for too many jumpers and didn't use the post enough for my taste. Late in the 3rd it looked like the Cavs finally realized that none of the Celtic big men are that good and just started to attack.
The defense. Again, like the rest of the game, for the first 3 quarters, it was awful. Sebastian Telfair just killed them. The Cavs will always have trouble with quick guards, but Telfair doesn't exactly have a quality jumper. He got to the rim at will tonight. One thing I don't understand is the Cavs defensive rotations. The Celtics would run a high screen and the Cavs would switch (instead of fighting through the picks). That left Telfair (or Delonte West) with the ball and going one on one versus Z, Gooden or Varejao. Not surprisingly, their guards got to the rim. Late in the game, the Cavs were fighting through picks (and getting stops), why they didn't do this the entire game, I'll never know.
LeBron dominated, especially late. He seemed to get fed up of all those jump shots and he just started driving to the hoop, just dragging the Celtics along with him. He had a couple 'and-ones'and he was draining his free throws (19-23). At the end, he was guarding Paul Peirce and actually playing some pretty good D.
Was it just me, or did Varejao grab every rebound down the stretch. Andy ended with 10 boards, but it seemed like every time the Celtics missed down the stretch, Varejao ended up with the ball. For the Cavs as a team, this was the first game they didn't out rebound their opponent (both teams ended with 42 boards).
It might be time to start Damon Jones. That's a scary thought, but he played some non-awful defense down the stretch. If he can do that with any sort of regularity, he should get more minutes (he also hit a clutch 3 as well).
Let's see if the Cavs can play a complete game on Monday. The Cavs will be facing another team that, on paper, they should handle with ease in the Knicks. Of course, if LeBron plays well, I'm sure someone will say he loves MSG so much that he can't wait to sign there in 4 years.